Intrinsic modification of polybutadiene and block copolymer styrene–butadiene–styrene with the electrically conducting emeraldine salt of tetraaniline (TANI) via a three-step grafting method, is reported in this work. Whilst the TANI oligomer grafted at a similar rate to both polybutadiene and styrene–butadiene–styrene under the same conditions, the resulting elastomers exhibited vastly different properties. 1 mol% TANI-PB exhibited an increased relative permittivity of 5.9, and a high strain at break of 156%, whilst 25 mol% TANI-SBS demonstrated a relative permittivity of 6.2 and a strain at break of 186%. The difference in the behaviour of the two polymers was due to the compatibilisation of TANI by styrene in SBS through π-π stacking, which prevented the formation of a conducting TANI network in SBS at. Without the styrene group, TANI-PB formed a phase separated structure with high levels of TANI grafting. Overall, it was concluded that the polymer chain structure, the morphology of the modified elastomers, and the degree of grafting of TANI, had the greatest effect on the mechanical and dielectric properties of the resultant elastomers. This work paves the way for an alternative approach to the extrinsic incorporation of conducting groups into unsaturated elastomers, and demonstrates dielectric elastomers with enhanced electrical properties for use in actuation devices and energy harvesting applications.
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